LIVE REVIEW: BRANTFORD'S WTFEST PACKED THE PARK



The biggest music festival in the city of Brantford returned for its fourth year, on July 27th at Lions Park. Although WTFest is a one of the area’s newer events, it continues to expand and evolve each year, drawing in fans from Brantford and beyond.

While everything else in the world seems to be increasing in price, WTFest President Jamie Stephens aims to keep his festival affordable:

"Tickets are priced at only $28. While other Festivals seem to be raising prices across the board, we want to stand out with an amazing rock show at an affordable price. We've done that this year."

A true community staple, WTFest prides itself on community involvement - including volunteers, a side-stage of local acts, an artists' tent and vendors. New to the festival this year was a secondary stage on which local artists would play between main-stage performances. This made for a seamless transition between the day’s main acts and amplified the underlying mission of supporting local music – giving exposure to some killer local acts.

Bonds of Mara started off the WTFest-ivities in one of their first collective appearances and their debut festival performance. Former members of I Mother Earth, Finger Eleven, and Default, these heavy rockers are no strangers to the scene and gave WTFest-goers a taste of what's to come from the newly-created Canadian super group.

Brantford's own Ascot Royals have been a driving force in the Canadian rock scene for over ten years and decided it be fitting that they would play their last show ever at home. With many Ascot Royal t-shirts in the crowd, it was clear to see how much of an impact these guys really had on their hometown scene over the years. They played lots of dance rock hits such as "New Skin" and "The Best Is Yet To Come," a cover of "Electric Avenue" and few throwbacks from the band's earlier days. Lead vocalist Jimmy Chauveau took a moment out of the set to make mention of a small but mighty Brantford venue before playing an older tune:

"If you guys don't mind, we're going to take it back to Two Doors Down. Yell it back to us please."

Jimmy, Ben, Scott, Sam and Tal delivered a heartfelt, high-energy performance that fans will not soon forget.

Sisters Jordan and Kylie Miller - and honourary sibling Eliza Enman-McDaniel, played their first gigs in a pop-punk quartet under the moniker Done with Dolls before recruiting Leandra Earl and adopting a more mature sound and name in 2013 which we now know as The Beaches. Named after the area of Toronto the girls are from, The Beaches are without a doubt the one of the most-respected Canadian rock exports of our decade. Already in their career - with just one studio album thus far, they have received acclaim from the likes of Elton John and the Rolling Stones as well as a 2018 Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of The Year. Early in their set they said "it's gonna be a big party out here in Brantford,"  and that it was - as fans echoed back lyrics of the group's hit songs "T-Shirt," "Money" and - their latest, "Snake Tongue."

USS returned to WTFest for the second time – blowing fans away with their always explosive and eccentric set. Turntablist and hype man, Jason Parsons reminisced with the crowd about one of the duo's Brantford shows back in the day:

"Believe it or not, ten years ago we played at Alex's Tavern and started a mosh pit in the first song."

Mosh pits ensued from this point on - at times getting a little out of control, but were toned back down by vocalist/guitarist Ash Buchholz, urging the crowd not to set the wrong vibe.

A highlight of the evening was when Jason and Ash brought the Ascot Royals back on stage to – in the words of Ash "crowd surf them into the eternal horizon." Fans hoisted the Brantford band up and into the crowd  before USS got right into their next track - dedicated to Wayne Gretzky, "Yin Yang." Almost instantly, a wave of crowd surfers surfaced and were carried across the park until the end of the set.

At the end of the night, it was time to bring out the big dogs. The evening's headliners, The Sheepdogs, turned WTFest into Woodstock with an electrifying batch of 70s-sounding southern rock. From "I've Got A Whole Where My Heart Should Be" to the band's debut single "I Don't Know," these Saskatchewan rockers continue to show how much Canada rocks.  To end their set, The Sheepdogs gave an impressive cover performance of The Allman Brothers Band classic  "Midnight Rider."

 Stay tuned to see what WTFest has in store for its fifth installment next summer.









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